High Temperature Isotope Geochemistry and Geochronology

Course content

The topic and content coverage of this course is two-folded: 1. A presentation and a broad overview of isotope tool packs that are used in modern research of magmatic and metamorphic geological processes and in ore deposits research is given. Relevant radiogenic and non-traditional isotope systems are introduced and, in typical examples, are used to explain mechanisms that govern the interplay between - and operation of geochemical systems in Earth’s core, mantle, and crust. 2. On the basis of a comprehensive understanding of the principle of some of the major high temperature isotope systems, the second part of the course deals with the use of some of the systems for geochronological purposes. Examples of rock and mineral dating in magmatic, metamorphic and high temperature fluid processes are presented and much emphasis is on controlling parameters inherent to the use of radiogenic isotope systems for dating purposes. The importance of how to properly interpret geochronological results is central to the topic covered in this second part.


BSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience

Learning outcome


  • Knowledge of important radiogenic and non-traditional isotope systems that have been used to constrain major milestones in the formation of planet Earth
  • Knowledge of the importance of element-mineral-melt distribution coefficients in magmatic and metamorphic processes
  • Deepened understanding of the behavior of rare earth elements in magmatic and metamorphic processes 
  • Knowledge of the major factors that control blocking/closure temperatures of radiogenic systems in minerals
  • Ability to differentiate between major isotope tracer systems in magmatic/metamorphic evolution and radiogenic systems used for geochronology



  • Students learn how to correctly interpret geochronological results.
  • Students learn how to understand parent-daughter element fractionations and the use of important isotope tracer system in magmatic differentiation processes
  • Students learn how to apply some of the more relevant and used systems in particular case studies which represent examples of how high-temperature isotope systems are used in modern geological research aspects.
  • The students are capable of discriminating between absolute, relative and model age dating approaches and learn how to apply the radiogenic decay system equations to each of the geochronological fields.



  • The course provides students with a relevant overview of some of the most widespread isotope systems used to tackle magmatic, metamorphic, and ore deposits related problems in modern geology
  • The understanding of the working of the respective isotope systems is based on fundamental geochemical principles and mechanisms. The Students learn to critically analyze and interpret geochronological data and are familiarized with the pro’s and major limitations to the use radiogenic isotope systems in geochronological applications.
  • The course provides students with means for how to critically interpret geochronological results and how to combine geochronological information with (isotope) geochemical tracers that are used in magmatic/metamorphic and hydrothermal melt/fluid system investigations.

A mixture of lectures and interspersed exercises with a powerpoint framework at its base.

Please see Absalon.

An understanding of the major geochemical principles (crystal-liquid-melt partitioning, fractional crystallization, etc) with respect to the behavior of important groups of elements in magmatic, metamorphic, and hydrothermal processes is desirable. Hearing of the courses “Melting in the Earth’s mantle -tracing sources and processes” and “Mineral Resources” are beneficial to the understanding of this course.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Continuous oral and written feedback, individual and collective, in exercises that are introduced, discussed and performed during confrontation hours.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment, 2*2 hours
Type of assessment details
The final marking is based on two 2 hours written tests which each is weighed 50%. A course plan with the dates for the two written tests is accessible on Absolon at the beginning of the course. The written tests are conducted at IGN. The students have to participate in both written exams and pass is given if the average marking of both tests is a pass.
Only certain aids allowed

Scientific pocket calculator (no mobile phones), pencil and ruler.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

4 hours written exam under invigilation.

Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 21
  • Preparation
  • 164
  • Exercises
  • 21
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level

1 block

Block 3
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Geosciences and Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Robert Frei   (7-7774676a77796b456e6c7333707a336970)
Saved on the 28-02-2023

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